One of the most important commodities in your life is your relationships. Let’s be honest: “busy” has become the new black. It’s not unusual for a client to tell me she doesn’t feel connected to her partner, and in the next breath tell me that she’s “crazy busy”.
Sometimes it seems as if folks believe there’s a special badge of honor given to whoever is the busiest, but don’t always see the connection between their stressful schedule and less-than-stellar love lives.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand that everyone has obligations vying for their attention. There’s work, children, aging parents to care for, and things our bodies need for existence (like sleep). I know, however, that being busy can be addicting. It can also function as a way of numbing ourselves, so that we don’t have to feel.
One of the most valuable commodities your relationship has is your precious time and attention. In order to feel connected to your partner, you have to make spending time together important — as important as your work and extracurricular activities.
Here’s seven ways to make your relationship a priority:
One – Create a Vision for Your Relationship
A couple’s vision is a great way to help you identify priorities for your relationship, allowing you to say yes to what matters and no to the activities that detract from who you are as a couple and as individuals. It gives you a clear picture of the way you want to manage your shared life. And, in this modern day and age, ensure that you agree on how you’ll handle social media so that whatever is private between you stays private.
Two – Share Schedules
Regularly compare your calendars and priority lists from work and family obligations to see where you can carve time out for each other. This also helps you both to know when one of you is likely to need some extra support for an upcoming project.
In the age of electronics this can be super easy by sharing a copy of your Outlook or Google Calendar with your spouse. Or creating a family calendar that includes everyone’s appointments and commitments.
Three – Commit to a Regular Date Night
Though it may sound hokey, a regular date night makes quality time together a priority. It doesn’t even have to be expensive. Maybe it’s dinner together on Sundays or a monthly night out at a favorite restaurant. Maybe it’s a bike ride together on the first Saturday of the month, or even just a candle-lit picnic on the living room carpet.
Four – Create a Relationship Minimum Weekly Requirement
As a couple, agree to a non-negotiable minimum amount of time together. Maybe you’ll agree that at least one night a week, neither partner will work late or attend an evening event. Maybe you’ll agree to get up early two mornings a week and have breakfast together. Make it doable and choose to make it important.
Five – Make Time for Intimacy
Sex is an important part of connecting with your partner. If you make it important, it will become important. Though scheduling sex may not sound romantic, agreeing to a minimum number of times a month you’ll make love can actually help strengthen your bond. Plus, the more you do it, the more you want to do it!
Six – Small Kindnesses Go a Long Way in Your Relationship
Successful long-term relationships are created through small words, small gestures, and small acts. Because, yes, even though we may remember the big events of a shared life such as a wedding or romantic vacation, most of our lives are lived in the daily grind. So, go the extra mile in your relationship by peppering your day with small kindnesses. This can range from making a cup of coffee, packing a lunch, or even making the bed.
Seven – Create “No Electronics” Zones
Don’t eat in front of the TV every night. Don’t bury your head in separate iPads. Dinnertime should be about focusing on the company and the meal. Talk about the events of the day and share upcoming events. This goes for your sleeping space, too. Don’t charge your phone in the bedroom! It’s too easy to end the day with last minute emails instead of some quality snuggle time or sex.
Though much of life is out of our control, that doesn’t mean that you can’t make what’s important a priority.
Don’t sacrifice connection in your relationship. If you aren’t careful, “busy” can become your identity. But being busy isn’t the same as feeling worthy, satisfied, or fulfilled. And it does nothing to strengthen the special bond with your sweetie. Ask yourself: how important is your relationship? How important do you want it to be?